Saddle soap on the out? (Also, new member to the Fairfax saddle club!)

VioletStripe

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So first of all, I officially am the proud owner of a Fairfax classic jump and all I can say is - I am madly, deeply in love, and we are very happy together.

Secondly, it came with Rapide gel to use on it which I am very happy to do and will definitely be doing to as it is under the official care instructions. However, this got me thinking and reading - do people not use old fashioned saddle soap any more?

I'm only 24 and suddenly feel terribly behind the times reading up about people eschewing saddle soap - it's what I was always taught to use on the various yards I learned and worked on. I never used Neatsfoot oil (horrible stuff IMO) but often use balsams if my leather is dry. So, thoughts? What do you lot use on your tack? Yesterday I used soap on my bridle and some balsam (it was long overdue for a clean I must admit) and used the Rapide on my saddle...
 

Rosietaz

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So first of all, I officially am the proud owner of a Fairfax classic jump and all I can say is - I am madly, deeply in love, and we are very happy together.

Secondly, it came with Rapide gel to use on it which I am very happy to do and will definitely be doing to as it is under the official care instructions. However, this got me thinking and reading - do people not use old fashioned saddle soap any more?

I'm only 24 and suddenly feel terribly behind the times reading up about people eschewing saddle soap - it's what I was always taught to use on the various yards I learned and worked on. I never used Neatsfoot oil (horrible stuff IMO) but often use balsams if my leather is dry. So, thoughts? What do you lot use on your tack? Yesterday I used soap on my bridle and some balsam (it was long overdue for a clean I must admit) and used the Rapide on my saddle...
I’m lazy so have quick sprays and wipes haha, but I still use the leather soap in tubs. I’m with you on the balsams. I’ve never oiled my tack, but I swear by the Lincoln leather balsam for softening and feeding. Have also used ko-cho-line (looks like jam) which is good too
 

Roxylola

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I generally use some sort of balsam after I've cleaned with hot water. Interesting Oz saying about older tack, as I've found new tack tends to get sticky with soap whereas old tack goes supple; that said new modern tack seems to start life softer anyway
 

cremedemonthe

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I generally use some sort of balsam after I've cleaned with hot water. Interesting Oz saying about older tack, as I've found new tack tends to get sticky with soap whereas old tack goes supple; that said new modern tack seems to start life softer anyway
Taken from the article I have sent the op
" The rearing of the cattle, the slaughtering and tanning processes have changed over the years and leather today is not the same as it was years ago. "

so yes, it can affect new hide (saddle soap) when i was young we used saddle soap and neatsfoot oil in abundance on tack, it was fine but since being a Saddler (last 32 years) I noticed how leather has changed and is constantly changing, it's very different in substance now to what it was 30 years ago. When we were training they told us to avoid saddle soap and neatsfoot because of this reason.
Oz
 

VioletStripe

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Amazing... thank you so much everyone! I will definitely be re-thinking my approach.. and potentially palming my huge tub of. saddle soap off to my non-horsey flat mate to use on her handbags ;)

Oz - will respond to your PM now!
 

honetpot

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I have some tack which I hate to say is over 40 years old, English tanned leather and UK made. A lot of tack now is made from imported tanned leather, which although a lot better than in was, it used to stink, is not tanned in the traditional way,some has a coated finish. So you really have to read the label, even if it says English made, it could have been tanned somewhere else.
http://www.jfjbaker.co.uk/equestrian-leather/
 

MuddyMonster

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I use saddle balm and occassionally neatsfoot oil when required :)

I use hot water first, to get the dirt and grease off first.
 

MiJodsR2BlinkinTite

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I know I'm old-fashioned and don't deny it, but while they keep making the stuff (which hopefully will be for a good while yet) I'll always have a bar of "saddle soap" in my tackroom.

Love the smell of it, nay am just addicted to the stuff; it always takes me right back to Pony Club days, and actually its very economical to use too!
 

CanteringCarrot

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I also have a Fairfax and use warm water and a tack cleaning sponge for a wipe down. Followed by Rapide gel as needed. I've also used Belvoir leather balm and they was ok too.
 

Sam_J

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Ooh, this might explain why my Collegiate Comfi-Tec bridle just feels sticky after I've cleaned it with warm water (and a non scratchy dish scrubber sponge) and then put old fashioned saddle soap on it. Might have to investigate some alternatives...
 

HorsesRule2009

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Taken from the article I have sent the op
" The rearing of the cattle, the slaughtering and tanning processes have changed over the years and leather today is not the same as it was years ago. "

so yes, it can affect new hide (saddle soap) when i was young we used saddle soap and neatsfoot oil in abundance on tack, it was fine but since being a Saddler (last 32 years) I noticed how leather has changed and is constantly changing, it's very different in substance now to what it was 30 years ago. When we were training they told us to avoid saddle soap and neatsfoot because of this reason.
Oz
So what would you recommend to use?
I wash tack with warm water and a tiny amount of dish soap, and then normally use horsemans one step to condition it
 

Quigleyandme

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Interesting thread OP and not something I had given much thought to. I’m still using a 1920s side-saddle. The leather is not in too bad condition considering but it would be nice to get a shine on the offside. Any ideas?
 

Griffin

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I still use saddle soap for a quick clean e.g. it's a bit sweaty and I don't want to strip it down. If I am in even more of a hurry, I use Horseman's Onestep

For a proper clean, I use a PH balanced leather cleaner and then I usually put on Rapide gel.
 

Frumpoon

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Oooh I've rècently converted back to neatsfoot oil and clear Dubbin and I'm in love

They've done a much better job on my continental saddles than the posh balsams I've accumulated, in fact I did wonder if the one particular brand of oil and balms didn't leave the leather dryer meaning you used more and more of the product
 

holeymoley

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Belvoir saddle soap that I’ve had for 15 years- bar honestly lasts a lifetime or I don’t use it much! That and warm water, not a lot of water though. Then Effax leather balm to waterproof it and nourish. My saddles are both 2004 & 2009 so perhaps come under the ‘old’ leather?! I’ve only ever used neatsfoot oil once and that was to revive a completely solid old bridle, and it worked a treat. I wouldn’t use it on anything else though.
 

cremedemonthe

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So what would you recommend to use?
I wash tack with warm water and a tiny amount of dish soap, and then normally use horsemans one step to condition it
Good, that's the right way to clean it, I will send you the article, explains everything and how to make your own good conditioner, Oz
 
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sbloom

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I still use saddle soap for a quick clean e.g. it's a bit sweaty and I don't want to strip it down. If I am in even more of a hurry, I use Horseman's Onestep

For a proper clean, I use a PH balanced leather cleaner and then I usually put on Rapide gel.
Anything one step isn't recommended, it's like trying to wash and moisturise your face with one product, one is supposed to lift off and one to sink in. Always a compromise. I don't know it's exact ingredients.

Saddle soap is a humectant, it attracts moisture, it doesn't feed leather but it arguably feeds mould. Moisture might be useful in a very dry climate but not in ours. Oz's info is great, I use his conditioner and now sell it too.

Oooh I've rècently converted back to neatsfoot oil and clear Dubbin and I'm in love

They've done a much better job on my continental saddles than the posh balsams I've accumulated, in fact I did wonder if the one particular brand of oil and balms didn't leave the leather dryer meaning you used more and more of the product
Belvoir saddle soap that I’ve had for 15 years- bar honestly lasts a lifetime or I don’t use it much! That and warm water, not a lot of water though. Then Effax leather balm to waterproof it and nourish. My saddles are both 2004 & 2009 so perhaps come under the ‘old’ leather?! I’ve only ever used neatsfoot oil once and that was to revive a completely solid old bridle, and it worked a treat. I wouldn’t use it on anything else though.
Eek at oil and Dubbin for saddles. If you have bonded calf skin, popular on continental saddles, oil (and I would be fairly sure that Dubbin contains oil of some sort but have no idea) can often end up dissolving the solvents between the layers of leather. Just because something makes your leather feel good in the short term doesn't mean it's the best thing for it long term.

Effax Ledebalsam is one that was often recommended, including by me, until, on here, someone posted a full list of ingredients - it might shout about all the nice stuff in it, as they all do, but it never shouted about containing (incredibly drying) petroleum distillate solvents. So the good barely, and often don't, outweight the bad.

And yes for really old dry, stiff tack neatsfoot isn't the worst option, just one use to get it moving, the use a conditioner like Oz's. Use will then continue to soften it, you can sit in the evenings and use that sort of conditioner and really work strap work between your hands so soften it up faster.
 

Pinkvboots

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I haven't used glycerine soap for decades :p I just use (slightly warm if possible) water and a non-scratch dishwashing sponge to get the grot off and then some kind of leather grease/balsam type stuff when it's dry. I like Stubben Hamanol on saddles tho as it doesn't go squeaky :eek:
I wash my tack the same but use Renapur on mine I use the cleaner sometimes and the conditioner is lovely, i bought the whole set at Hoys last year so anything leather here gets the Renapur treatment.
 

PoniesRock

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I’m a hunt groom and I religiously use NAF soft soap. It’s glycerine based but I feel that it does a deeper clean without needing harsh scrubbing. Admittedly most of the hunters tack is as old as the hills and isn’t ‘modern’ based brands that seem to dislike the glycerine based soaps. I tend to use balms on the bridles and the underneath of the saddles, but not anywhere near the seat or the flaps where the balms stain cream jods! If the tack has had a very wet day then it may get oiled too.
 

Kat

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Good, that's the right way to clean it, I will send you the article, explains everything and how to make your own good conditioner, Oz
Hi would you mind sending me that article?

I need a new conditioner and the one recommended by the manufacturer of my saddle is no longer available. I have been using Effax but have got some build up, and now sbloom's comments have put me off!
 

Frumpoon

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Anything one step isn't recommended, it's like trying to wash and moisturise your face with one product, one is supposed to lift off and one to sink in. Always a compromise. I don't know it's exact ingredients.

Saddle soap is a humectant, it attracts moisture, it doesn't feed leather but it arguably feeds mould. Moisture might be useful in a very dry climate but not in ours. Oz's info is great, I use his conditioner and now sell it too.





Eek at oil and Dubbin for saddles. If you have bonded calf skin, popular on continental saddles, oil (and I would be fairly sure that Dubbin contains oil of some sort but have no idea) can often end up dissolving the solvents between the layers of leather. Just because something makes your leather feel good in the short term doesn't mean it's the best thing for it long term.

Effax Ledebalsam is one that was often recommended, including by me, until, on here, someone posted a full list of ingredients - it might shout about all the nice stuff in it, as they all do, but it never shouted about containing (incredibly drying) petroleum distillate solvents. So the good barely, and often don't, outweight the bad.

And yes for really old dry, stiff tack neatsfoot isn't the worst option, just one use to get it moving, the use a conditioner like Oz's. Use will then continue to soften it, you can sit in the evenings and use that sort of conditioner and really work strap work between your hands so soften it up faster.
That's brilliant info, very useful to know!

I don't think these are bonded calfskin, they're at least 15 years old? One of them arrived completely, completely dried out....it must have gone hunting then been hosed off and left in the tackroom.

My NAF Luxe leather food oil and balm didn't come close to fixing it, I had to rub it down with hot water, then stubben saddle soap, then coats of neatsfoot over a couple of weeks, then dubbin to seal. Now it's a respectable member of society again
 

Abi90

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I only use the rapide gel on my Fairfax saddle. And I use it on my bridle and everything else. It lifts the dirt just fine :) then wipe it down with a dry cloth after for a nicer finish.

A thing to note about Fairfax jump saddles, there isn’t much flocking between the horse and the bar at the front. My flocking really dampened down and I ended up with issues with my horse as the bar was pinching her. (And I had the saddle checked every 3 months at that point)!!
 

suebou

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Talk about learning something every day! I am old and traditional and the information about newer leather was a revelation! Could I possibly also ask Oz for the article and recipe pleas? Than you.
 
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